Maersk Line announced Thursday it will reduce ship calls to Hong Kong by up to a third starting in April, with Modern Terminals' Container 9 taking the brunt of one of the biggest shifts in years.
Soren Karas, head of Maersk Line's South China operations, confirmed the new strategy. "We intend to create a third major gateway to and from South China (the others are Yantian and Hong Kong). In this connection we will in the upcoming annual deployment adjustments add Nansha calls to several strings — and in some cases this will replace Hong Kong," he said.
"We are making this move first and foremost because we believe that the South China load area is large enough to have three gateways and that we can develop a superior product for our clients with this setup. Further we expect the Western part of Guangzhou and the West Pearl River Delta to grow above trend in this area. Direct calls in Nansha will enable our customers to reduce the costs of their supply chain and provide a more reliable service," he said.
By The Numbers: U.S.Trade with Mainland China
Maersk executives estimate its vessels make around 850 calls to Hong Kong annually, or 71 per month. Under the new arrangement, this will likely decline to 47 monthly calls.
According to Karas, the Nansha gateway, which is partly owned by sister company APM Terminals, will attract volume that in some cases move via Shenzhen ports and in others over Hong Kong. The latter is notably the case for some of the cargo that today is barged from Pearl River ports.
"This is the reason why as the new deployment falls in place there will be fewer main-haul calls in HK. However, it is very important to stress that HK remains one of our three strongholds here and we will continue to offer superior products to our HK clients. The services that cater to our local HK business will generally remain as will several strings still cater to transshipment volumes from WPRD and internationally in HK," he said.
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